Monday, June 30, 2008

Out on the Town and other stories

We have been getting these incredible storms at least twice a day. The sun will be shining and suddenly it is dark as night and the winds pick up. Then the thunder starts rolling (poor Bertha) and it clashes non stop for about 30 minutes. At some point the skies open and the rain poors down, like it has never rained before. This goes on for 30-60 minutes then is suddenly gone and the sun shines again. We are used to a lot of rain in the spring and summer, but this is different. These storms remind me of the tropics. In a way they are refreshing, they usually bring cooler weather but they also make it so the humidity stays at about 85 %, whew. We all know what that does to the frizz factor! It looks like one may be coming in now as the winds have picked up and the sky is getting darker. I wonder what all this crazy weather means. I know a lot of people blame it on global warming but I have a hard time believing that is the only cause.
(The image above is of the Christian Science building in down town Boston. This is just after a rain storm with the sun going down. Behind the building there is this huge "park" with mirror pools and huge fountains. There is also fountains that come right out of the ground and form water tunnels you can walk/run through. Nice in the summer time!)

I promised some pictures of us out on the town last week, a rare occurrence, I admit. Each summer, the Boston Pops do this event called Edge Fest. They get popular rock and pop stars to come in and do 2 nights of shows with them. They are trying to reach out to new audiences. They had Tori Amos recently as well as Ben Folds. Well last week they had this girl named Amanda Palmer who is one half of a local band called "The Dresden Dolls". They model themselves after the cabaret performers in the 30's and 40's in Germany. They wear make up and dress the part. They are also very talented. A few years ago they did a play called "The Onion Cellar" based on a book of stories that take place in early 20th century Germany. She wrote most of it and it centered around their original songs. I took Doug for Christmas and we became fans. I love unique talent, and they certainly have that.

Amanda is about to come out with her first solo album, featuring a lot of her on the piano. When we heard she was playing with the Pops, we knew it would be something special. She doesn't do anything small, she is too big of a presence. Her fans really came out for this. I think the conductor was a little shocked. Outside the theater there were these living statues.

She loves performance art and for years made money being the "bride" as a living statue in Harvard square. For those of you who don't know, they dress up and paint themselves to look like a statue. They stay completely still until you drop some money into the cup then they do a little mime act or something like that. I think she gave people flowers being the bride and all.

Most of her fans dressed up, dress up style. Big thrifted dresses, heavy make up, slips and fish nets etc. I just wore dress pants.

The theater is beautiful. We were on the second balcony but had a perfect view. Around the whole top of the room they had these white statues. I like the image of this statue I captured, she looks like mother Mary.

The first half of the show was just the Pops playing selections from The Planets, which was nice.

But it really started when Amanda came out. She really engaged the orchestra, did some traditional show tunes, in a not so traditional way, did some new stuff, had actors in some songs, a choir in another and even burlesque dancers. Her regular band is more artsy punk rock but this really engaged a wider audience. Even those who had never heard of her would have really enjoyed themselves. I am so glad we went. The Boston Globe has a great little video of her opening song from the first night. It gives you a good taste of the show.

The following pictures are taken by Chris Devers and are in his Flickr. I wasn't close enough to get these shots.

Since the last three times I have been out to a show in the last few years, was to see Amanda and the Dresden Dolls, I thought I would share a bit of our evening. I hope you enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bloggy Bling

Hello everyone! I want to thank you all again for your wonderful words of support, advise, and comfort. Without them I would have felt very alone. I was able to ask for help from my church, and they responded swiftly and with great love to get me the two most important meds. The others will last until Saturday when Doug and I will now be able to get those. I am always amazed at how people really are willing to help when your in need.

I am back to my normal self now, and want to share some pictures. I may do this in two posts, we will see. First, I want to show you all the blog love I have received recently.

I won the May giveaway at The Blind Pig and the Acorn. I was really excited about this because not only do I love reading Tippers thought provoking posts, but I love her Appalachian folk paintings. Typically when we think of how angels are portrayed in art, we think of young beautiful almost fairy like creatures, or glowing cherubim. Tippers angels are older women, standing watch over us. Much like all the women in my life. The portrayal feels more realistic to me. Comforting.

The painting came framed with a few wonderful homemade cards. I keep her right next to me at my computer! She sells them in her Etsy shop, you should take a look. When I make my fortune I am going to get a collection!

The same day (all the giveaways I have won have come in twos!), I won Upstate Lisa's bloggiversary quilt!
What a win! She has been exploring her wonky side lately and made this great wall quilt of wonky houses. When I get a rod, it is going on my office door. That spot has needed something for a long time. When I showed Doug a picture of the quilt, he was not totaly taken in, but when he saw it, he LOVED it.

He shows all his friends when they come over! I love it too, I can't thank you enough Lisa for the beauty you have brought into our house (I also won her last one around Easter where we got these, which Doug whisked off to the perfect spot almost before I could photo them!). You have a fan in Doug, Lisa.

She even quilted little houses into the border. I don't know if you can see them but they are darling!

Those of you that have been reading lately know I was involved in the Flirty Apron Swap, Celebrating Independence. I was making for Sue Ann and was a bit nervous because she is so talented, plus she has a lot of aprons so I wanted this one to be unique. I posted more about it here. I used the pinup girl fabric lined with a very vintage blue gingham and with red and white polkadot prairie points on the bottom.
I am really pleased with how it turned out, especially since it is my first ever apron. Sue Ann received it monday, and I think she loves it. I tried to eminate the style she likes. The secret swaps are so fun. When you are researching the person, you almost feel like a secret spy lol.

I knew my apron would be here soon, and sure enough, when I got home from the dreaded appointment Friday there was a patriotic gift box with my name on it, all the way from GA.

Laura from Beelicious made me a gorgeous apron and included several goodies including glitter and address labels! I adore the apron, I almost don't want to take it off or use it, ha ha. It will get plenty of use!

Thanks so much Laura. I know there is another Flirty swap coming soon so stay tuned for that.

Finally, my partner in the Mini Quilt Swap is a lot more on the ball than me, the perpetual procrastinator! My mini quilt also arrived Friday, all the way from Jen "Hedgehog" in Finland.

According to the postage stamp, it only took THREE day! Amazing. The quilt is darling! It has an appliqued tree with button and quilted berries. You know I love trees. It also has a tiny hedgehog button at the bottom and this adorable label. I don't have a photo, but you should see it next to the angel painting. Perfect!

With all I was dealing with this past week, I didn't get as much done as I wanted but should have mine ready to send off this weekend, when I can at least post teasers. July's mini quilt theme is "triangles" so it looks like I am going to try my hand at some mini piecing. It is so nice to be feeling better and have more control over things for the moment. I have some great photo's of Symphony Hall and the Boston Pops show we went to last week, so they will be surfacing soon! I took this last photo yesterday while I was waiting for the sun to shine, in our back courtyard. George has done miracles back there. I know the name of these flowers but cant think of it at the moment. I always loved them though. They are full of flower personality. Have a great day everyone! Love Stacy

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A storm and a calmness

that doesn't look good...
Originally uploaded by joeshaw
We got this incredible storm today. The thunder rumbled non stop for hours. Poor Bertha, she doesn't do well with thunder. One time she peed herself because it scared her so much, poor thing. She was deep in the corner of a closet and peed all over Doug's t-shirts. Sometimes she is so hidden we can't even find her.
On our way to the drug store there were all these big stones covering the road. We couldn't figure out where they came from. As we drove up the hill, we saw they had been carried from a lot a block away by the fierce amount of water that poured down the hill from the rain. These are strange times.
Thank you all so much for your kind words and prayers. Things are getting sorted out one piece at a time. I have been able to stay calm which I know has helped immensely. More soon. Love Stacy

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tight Rope

I am hoping that after this first sentence writing this will get easier. I have had a very difficult time trying to get myself to post this week. I obviously didn't do very well. Do you ever have those times when you feel like your walking a tight rope? You are holding steady, even if your a little shaky, but you know with a gust of wind or loss of concentration you will fall. That is me these last few days. Every time I went to post, I could feel those turbulent emotions under the surface start to rumble and became afraid of what might come out. So I sit still, breathing in and out until the moments pass and I can direct my attention to something more comforting. Starting my blog in Feb. was the first writing I had done in close to ten years, for this exact reason. I was always so afraid what would come out. Then I begin to fear the feeling of fear when I would think about it. So I put it on the shelf, so to speak.

I have been doing quite well the past while, learning the right balance for myself. Learning how to listen to my body and to my mind. It takes a lot of energy to maintain and function with my health, but I am doing it little by little. The truth however, is that I am kind of at my threshold. Walking that tight rope. When something comes up or goes wrong It can throw me right off, and it takes me a long time to get my balance back. Most of the time it is a bad cold or not being able to get my prescriptions in time, but this is a big one. And I am scared.

I went to my doctors appointment Friday, and was told at check in that my insurance had expired! I had been waiting for the renewal letter for months and had received other letters making me think it was still in place. Apparently it had come while I was in AZ and was set aside in one of many piles of mail that I never realized were there. I finally did find it yesterday. The letter was unmarked, no return address and looked like junk mail. Regardless my insurance ended without me renewing it in time. It takes three weeks for the renewal to process once I send it in today, which would be ok if my prescriptions weren't due to be filled tomorrow.

Let me just say that it has taken several years for me to get a good combo of meds and doses. And they aren't cheap. At the end of March, Doug's contract work ended with only 4 days warning. Luckily he found a job quickly but we did go 3 weeks without pay. With me not able to work, this left us a bit behind and have not yet been able to catch up. He doesn't get paid til Friday, and 4 days without my meds would probably hospitalize me. To add to everything my parents left on a 2 week cruise and tour of Italy and Greece on Tues. so are completely out of touch. I have a hard time when my mumsy is away. She is the person I talk with, rant to, figure things out with. She is my stress reducer. Doug doesn't like when she is away either lol. I do have Bertha, my little feline friend but she isn't very good with the feedback part of the relationship.

Part of me is ashamed and angry for making such a huge mistake. The other part knows that I really do everything I can and it just happened. I have two clashing emotions, one of intense fear and shame of what tomorrow will bring, and a sense of calm knowing that getting worked up won't solve anything. The calm part is a testament to how much I have grown and improved, mostly made possible by my medication. That calm will disappear emotionally and physically if I have to go without. I keep thinking a solution will arise as long as I do everything I can and allow that calm side to guide me through.

I was able to accomplish a few things though including getting all my long over due packages put together and mailed. Without that weighing on my mind I was able to make some progress on my little quilts, which really are a joy once I get myself to start working on them. We also went to a show at the Boston Pops Friday night which was wonderful. We got the tickets way back before the job change, and after realizing my new problem Friday it was great to be able to get away for a few hours. I took this photo from the cab on the way to symphony hall.

I also received 3 swap/giveaway packages this week which also cheered me up. I am really able to appreciate how positive blogging has been for my life creatively and in helping me keep a positive attitude despite all the curve balls life has thrown me lately. The packages were wonderful. I will show everything soon, as well as Pops photos. I really just wanted to get myself to write something which I am glad I have done. But this is about all I can muster for now. Getting some sleep will probably be the best thing for me now, so I can get that renewal form off first thing. Thanks for bearing with me through this. As many commenters said on my anxiety post, writing things out (especially with my family out of reach) can also be great therapy for a difficult situation plus a prayer or 50!
Photos and more craftiness very soon. Love Stacy

Monday, June 16, 2008

And it's off...

Great news, my apron for the Flirty Apron Swap is finished! I came up with the pattern on my own but did take a lot of tips from a great tutorial over at Lululollylegs. Thanks for such clear instructions girl. Pending non stop rain tomorrow, I will be able to get it down to the P.O. and off to its new home! I can't wait for that secret someone to get it, and to receive my own. This has been such a fun thing to do. I know Shawnee always has new ideas going through that pretty head of hers so check back soon if you want in on the next one! She does a wonderful job!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Store

Well, I am no longer dying of heat stroke! We are back to our early spring, rainy,60 degree, high frizz alert weather. We actually had one absolutely perfect day on Friday, and Sat wasn't bad either, so I can't complain too much. In fact a nice fat package arrived yesterday that cheered me right up, and brought the memories flowing back. My mumsy's dad and his brother have owned and ran a hardware/book/housewares/gift/everything shop in their little Utah town since my grandpa was old enough to take it over. It has been in the family though for at least 90 years, maybe longer. My grandpa is now 83 and though he is more active and in better health than me, it is time for him to retire.
So "The Store" is closing! I spent a huge amount of time there as a youngin' and spent three summers (ages 12, 13, and 14) living with my grandparents and working at the store for 1$ p/h. I made 350-400$ a summer and was taught the valuable lesson of how to work. It has been the driving pulse of my mothers family for several generations. The truth though, is that about 10 years ago a Walmart was put in in the next town over, and business has never been the same. It makes me sad, but that is a rant for another day. I really want to show you the store before I show you the goodies I got yesterday, and before it is gone for good.

It was originally owned by my great grandma's family. She married a nice young man, George Taylor, in the early 1900's and became pregnant. About that time he was called to go away for two years on a mission for his church. While on the mission he fell very ill. She was able to come be with him in his last hours before he passed away.
He had a mission companion at that time, Elmer Bert Simmons, who had promised to make sure his wife and baby were ok if he died. The above is the two of them on their mission. While carrying out his word to George, Elmer and my great grandma fell in love. They soon married (about 1915) and had eight more children over the years. Elmer was given a job in the store. This is him in the store, but I am not sure of the year. It was one of those general everything stores that every tiny town needed before the Walmarts and Targets took over. They had everything from paint and fishing tackle to dish ware, fine crystal, furniture and toys. My grandpa, though he worked there while growing up, went to college and got a degree in accounting. But just as he was about to take a job and move his own little family, his parents asked him to please stay and run the store. My grandpa is one of the smartest, neatest people you could ever meet, and his family is ALWAYS #1. So he stayed and except for a yearly vacation, has worked every day but Sunday from 9am to 6pm every day since.

For all these years if there was overstock or something was damaged it would go upstairs into a big storage room, or out into the warehouse. As years passed, several things were forgotten about, and more would be added. Last week, my mom and sister drove up to help my grandpa go through everything. Most of it they threw away, as it was old display cases, packing supplies, empty boxes, defective electronics, etc. But about 10 % was these treasures that had been forgotten about and so preserved for several decades. My mom found things that had been put up there, with notes on them by her, at least 30 years ago. Knowing my adoration for things old and vintage, my mom kept a little corner as they were cleaning, with a few treasures for me. That is the box I received yesterday. Lets have a looksie.

Four kinds of vintage cards, two packages of which haven't been opened.

This donkey one is hilarious. I need to photo the whole thing.

A few of these pretty lady cards, though these are a bit dirty. Perfect for crafts.

Several Caravelle by Bulova men's watches. They are all from the 60's and 70's and are wind up.

About 20 Caravelle by Bulova ladies watches (there are several loose ones not shown). They are all lovely. Nothing too fancy (though some are 14 carat gold) but still very pretty. About half of all the watches still work. I bet the others need a little tune up. None have ever been worn.

These vintage holiday licky stickers. The pumpkin ones are opened, but the others still closed. Some of the glue has come off a few but I just love them in their old packages.

There were also some 1970's plastic grapes that my husband whisked away to hang on our "lovely" macramé wine holder that hangs in the kitchen. I haven't snapped a photo yet but I am sure if I don't, he will soon. They found a few more things for me after they sent this package which will be fun.

The store closing leaves me with mixed feelings. On one hand, it probably should have happened ten years ago. My poor grandpa needs to start spending that retirement of his and have a few lazy days (as if that will happen, wait til I show you his award winning garden). But there are so many memories attached to the place. The memories will always be there though and sometimes change is good. I kind of wish I could see it one more time, walk the sometimes warped isles, smell the key dust mingled with rosy smelling saches. When I close my eyes though I can.

Do you have places like this in your life? What are your memories of the places and times that helped shape who you are? And does anyone need a watch? :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quilty Faves

I am participating in a few mini/doll quilt swaps this summer. I realized I don't have a lot of quilty things on here yet, since I am so new, for my partners to get an idea of some of the things I like. I love trees, and things that tell little stories. I also like settings and unique scrappy looks. That isn't to say I don't like traditional piecing. I am in awe of it, I am just not very good at it yet. Here are a few of my favorite little quilts I have found through these groups. These are just ideas, if you already have something going, I am sure I will love it. If you have time, take a looksy at some of the stuff these quilters have made. It really is inspiring to see so much creativity.
Finished apron picks coming tonight or tomorrow. I am really happy with it. Thank you for all your wonderful comments on my last post! I can't tell you how much every one means to me. Love Stacy

1. "Story Time on What-A-Jolly Street", 2. Untitled, 3. Four Seasons Quilt Swap - Spring Mini Quilt by Nikki, 4. Mein Sommer, 5. poppies red, 6. April 30, 2008, 7. From Yara's Work in Germany, 8. Dutchman's Springtime Puzzle miniature quilt, 9. House 3, 10. Back of Pretty in Pink Mini Quilt, 11. Owl for Katy, 12. 4SQS Winter Quilt by Tami

Sunday, June 8, 2008


On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we had a high of 60 degrees, but mostly in the 50's. Chilly chilly. Then suddenly, with barely a warning...Heat Wave! I am serious, it is the craziest thing. 95 today, 98 tomorrow and it is 80 in the middle of the night. With the humidity so high, this is wicked hot for us. I feel like I have been stuck in a sweaty daze this weekend. My mind keeps wanting to get up and around, work on projects, go for walks. But my body replies by sitting still while beads of sweat form on my brow. I should take a cold shower.

I did finally get going on my patriotic apron for the Flirty Apron Swap. I am using some of my own aprons to get the right measurements, but am making up the rest as I go. I was able to find this fantastic patriotic pinup girl fabric and I am lining it with this vintage gingham I got in my great grandmothers stash. I have yards and yards of it in different sizes and colors. She must have bought it by the bolt. It is thin but perfect for lining. I am excited to get this done and off by Sundays deadline.

I have dealt with anxiety my whole life. At times it was paralyzing, stifling. I have had it mostly under control these last few years using medication and learning different techniques to deal with it. Crafting is a big one.
Now and again however, if I am not sleeping very well and don't feel good, I don't have as much strength to fight it. It tries to stop me from doing all those things that help me deal with it so well. It feels like I have no control and I despise that feeling. Before I knew what I was dealing with, I thought it would never end. I know now that I can fight it and it will go away, as long as I don't let it consume me. The desire to create and participate in my life gives me strength to get through it but it doesn't make those moments any more pleasant. I know a lot of people deal with this. Many years of fighting it and experience have shown me that I am not alone. The struggle is remembering that and taking advantage of the love and support surrounding me when the moment hits. I think it takes time and practice, and a willingness to learn and change. That is the space I am in now. I have improved. I know that because I have a blog, and I do create when I can. And I can see beauty all around me, in things I never gave any notice to before. But there is so far to go, and now is the time for learning, acceptance and allowing myself to sit still and listen to my body and spirit when I need to. Here are a few of the things I do when I am in a slump and those tough moments arrive. When I can do something about it, or allow the fear, doubt and uncertainty to overwhelm me. If I have a list of ways to cope prepared, it is much easier to use them when I need to.

1. Breathe: I sit back or lay down and focus on the in and out motion breathing requires. I try to notice how my body reacts. When my mind starts to wander (as it always does) I try to slowly bring it back to the steady movement of each breath. Sometimes, I pick a few words to focus on to help keep me positive in the moment. For example, I think "patience" on the in breath and "balance" on the out breath. Sometimes it puts me to sleep, but mostly it just helps me get past the few minutes of strong emotion and anxiety, so I can make better decisions afterwards.

2. Crafting for Therapy: Through several programs I have been in to help me learn how to deal with my issues, I have gained great respect for the idea of using arts and crafts to deal with things therapeutically...(I can't believe I just spelled that right!). I know many of you are pro's at this. I approach this in two ways. The first is to actually craft out how I am feeling at the moment. One project I have used several times for this is making an inside out box. I get a small box, any will do. (I have used gift boxes to paint your own pottery boxes) I decorate the outside to match how I see myself on the outside. Then I do the inside to match how I see myself on the inside. These don't have to be fabulous works of art, you are just working through your emotions so you can see them more clearly.
This was done about five years ago. Obviously both my inside and outside needed some color added, but it was quite an improvement from the one ten years ago so I will take it. This was about three years ago, it is a votive holder. Getting brighter! The point though, isn't to make it bright and happy, but to have a way to put a face to the difficult emotions your feeling. To give them an outlet. Another quick project to do is google inspiring quotes and find one that helps you in the moment. Print it out and use the feelings it inspires to decorate it in any way you want. You can even embroider it. Then keep it close so the next time you feel things tensing up, you will have it there to ponder.

The other way I use crafts is the more common way, the kind that most of us are drawn to. That is giving ourselves a way to be creative. Allowing whatever we are working on to consume us in a way, take us away from daily pressures for even a few moments. Or several hours. Since many of us do this anyway, I think the important thing is to recognize the positive effects of creating, and instead of it becoming a chore, allow it to be a few moments of healing as well. Before I started quilting, I went through a small mosaic faze. I would do this a lot more if I had more supplies. I love how they turned out, and though I gave most of them away as gifts, I did keep this one to hold candles and doodads.

3. Engage your Whole Body: The most common of this is of course exercise. Using you muscles, energy and willpower to push through the pain knowing you will feel better when you are done. Having your whole body engaged allows you to push through any emotions you have weighing you down. If exercise is possible for you, then try to make a little time for it. For some of us though, strenuous physical activity is not possible. I am limited in what exercise I can do by my health, so I have had to find new methods of practicing this skill.
The easiest way is to have a hot bath, or a cold shower. Slowly get it as hot or cold as you can and let your whole body accept the experience. When you are entirely engaged like that, strong and difficult emotions fade since your whole self is focused elsewhere. Sometimes I just step outside into the cold for a few minutes, or let the rain fall on my face.

4. Balance: This is something we will strive for our whole lives. Being able to do just enough of the things we need and want to, without one thing taking over. Having a routine really helps. Fitting a good sleep and healthy eating into that routine gives you the strength to deal with the challenges and struggles that we all must face. Trying to be empathetic to others also helps us keep our own lives in perspective and not get so upset when things don't go the way we would like.

This list is just a start, and I wrote it for myself as much as anyone else. I learned a long time ago that when we don't talk about things we struggle with they become more difficult and we start to think we have to face them on our own. The more we talk about those things, the less scary they become, and the easier it is to figure out ways to deal and grow. If anyone has other ideas and ways they deal with anxiety and down times, I would love to hear about them. Have a great week everyone and heres wishing you good weather and peaceful moments.